A flower has risen out of the void left by campus favorite Cosmos and has brought newfound flavor and spice to Marshall Street’s food culture. Sweet Basil opened right before the semester started, and brings a mix of both Vietnamese and Thai traditions to its food, which is bound to be an experience not only for your tongue (whatever taste buds you have left) but also your nose. Thai food is known for its flavor and spice, and Vietnamese for its freshness and minimal use of oil, so it’s nice to see a restaurant serve real food that doesn’t just cater to your hangover.
It’s great that it gives us more options to choose from on Marshall Street, but are they good options? Baked is here to judge.
The first course I tried, Shrimp in a Blanket, is a take on the American finger food “pigs in a blanket,” but with some Oriental flair. This appetizer comes with a duck sauce that truly complements the flavor of the shrimp. Fried to perfection, it’s a great way to start your journey on the path to flavor Nirvana.
The Banh Mi, which I tasted next, is a classic Vietnamese sandwich. Served on a baguette, it can be eaten in three levels of spice intensity: “Non-spicy,” “Mild,” or “HOT.” With its native Vietnamese ingredients enclosed in French bread, this dish illustrates the influence France had over Vietnam in its colonial days.
Up next, the Pho (pronounced fuh): a traditional Vietnamese noodle soup that consists of broth, various herbs, linguini-shaped rice noodles, and your choice of beef or chicken. Simple, right? Served with Hoisin sauce and Sriracha, this dish can be a real powerhouse.
The food may be fantastic, but what is a restaurant without some good ambiance? The restaurant carries influences of a classic American diner with its round circular chairs, and Southeast Asia with its numerous Buddha statues. The dim lighting and dark color scheme bring a calm mood, only be picked up by the flavor intensity of the food.
What it lacks in ambiance and aesthetics, Sweet Basil truly makes up for with its menu.
If you go:
Sweet Basil Thai House
143 Marshall St., Syracuse, NY; (315) 751-5168
Type of Food: Vietnamese and Thai
Hours: Monday to Saturday, 11 a.m.–10 p.m.; Sunday, 11 a.m.–9 p.m.